Unfortunately, we have to start this roundup with tragic news: There were two shootings in the past week. Adding to that feeling are headlines about Wikileaks leader Julian Assange, now-withdrawn Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore, and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who resigned last week after weeks of speculation. On the plus side, the US economy is adding more jobs. Here’s what else happened last week online.
Banking on It
What Happened: To stop them from responding to a congressional subpoena for information, President Trump, some of his children, and his company sued a couple of banks.
What Really Happened: A good portion of the American public is continuously curious about their president’s finances. Trump himself, however, is often elusive about this topic. Last week brought a new chapter in this ongoing saga.
The president and his family really don’t seem to want anyone to know what those banks know. Whatever the reason, the Trumps filed suit against Deutsche Bank and Capital One early last week, in an attempt to prevent Congress from seeing what was going on inside his financial dealings.
Yes, it’s a bold move, but don’t worry: Despite how suspicious such a move makes Trump and his family look, the lawsuit contains the usual attention to detail one has come to expect from the current administration.
People with good memories may remember that this isn’t the first time that Trump has sued Deutsche Bank, of course.
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It really is worth noting, for those wondering how high finance works, that despite the 2008 lawsuit, the bank went on to loan him even more money. Perhaps the bank simply knew that lawsuits were Trump’s preferred way to do business.
While it obviously will be some time before the entire process moves through the courts and the president discovers whether his attempt to halt the subpoena has been successful, he can at least take some solace in the fact that his suit has succeeded in slowing things down.
In an unlikely coincidence, at the same time as initial reporting about Trump’s lawsuit against his banks was taking place, another Trump lawsuit seeking to defend his business practices was in court and moving forward in a direction he likely wouldn’t have appreciated.
Here’s why this is a big deal:
The Takeaway: Let’s file this whole thing under: “We don’t know exactly what’s going on right now, but it’s a fair bet that it’s probably not going to turn out too well for the president in the end.” Maybe. Probably.
Mueller, You’re Up
What Happened: Since attorney general Bill Barr issued his four-page summary of the Mueller report, some have defended President Trump by pointing out that Mueller himself didn’t dispute Barr’s summary. Last week, it emerged that he actually had.
What Really Happened: So, last week Bill Barr was at the center of the news cycle more than he probably wanted to be. Early in the week, news broke that, despite a popular defense of Barr’s handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump campaign and administration’s behavior surrounding potential Russian interference in the 2016 election and the investigations thereof, Mueller had expressed frustration privately over Barr’s initial public summary.
Although Barr didn’t publicly reveal that the special counsel had contacted him about his summary—just the opposite, in fact, and we’ll get to that in a second—Mueller’s letter does appear to have spurred Barr into some form of action upon receipt.
Upon the reveal that the letter existed, many were surprised by the fact that the Mueller would make such a dramatic move.
As it turns out, this revelation was of concern.
It also raises questions about what else he might have done.
The timing of this leaking was significant, coming one day before Barr was due to testify to the Senate. Surely an appearance before lawmakers after this kind of revelation would provoke a lot of rebukes from all present, right? Well, perhaps not.
The Takeaway: Still, I’m sure that Mueller’s letter was just the regular, everyday kind of correspondence sent internally by those working in law enforc—oh. Oh. Really?
Bill Barr’s Day with the Senate
What Happened: Speaking of that Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, how’d attorney general Bill Barr do broadly?
What Really Happened: Barr’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday was, if nothing else, an amazing piece of political theater. And, at times, those paying attention might have thought that was the most that anyone would get out of it. The hearing offered only friendly questioning—and a surprising amount of references to Hillary Clinton—from Republicans, leaving it to Democrats to ask about the information people actually wanted to know. Let’s just say that the attorney general was not incredibly forthcoming, although the hearing made for some dramatic moments.
—but at least one person was impressed.
The experience apparently spooked Barr, however; the same day as he appeared in front of the Senate, it emerged that he would not appear the following day in front of the House of Representatives as had been originally been planned.
But perhaps it’s no great loss, considering.
The Takeaway: Still, surely this will be treated as the serious thing it is by lawmakers, yeah?
Jacob Wohl Is Back in the News
What Happened: If nothing else, you have to respect right-wing influencer Jacob Wohl for sticking to his guns when it comes to attempting to smear political figures.
What Really Happened: Political news junkies might have been surprised at the start of last week when rumors started buzzing around the internet that Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg was involved in some kind of scandal. When it emerged that the scandal was not actually real, but instead the work of Jacob Wohl—one of the people behind a similar attempt to smear Robert Mueller last year—everything made a lot more sense.
Yes, all of this actually happened. And it looked like it was intended to happen again.
Reactions were swift.
The Takeaway: It really does make one wonder what else Wohl is up to, doesn’t it?
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